Resources for Keeping Your Residents Safe During the upcoming Fall and Winter Respiratory Season

The upcoming fall and winter months pose significant risks to individuals aged 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions due to the prevalence of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19, influenza (Flu), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Among these vulnerable populations, elderly individuals residing in nursing homes and assisted living communities face the highest risk of complications from these respiratory diseases.
While it's impossible to predict which residents and patients will experience severe illness or require hospitalization due to respiratory viruses, taking proactive measures for the well-being of all residents and staff is crucial.
Here are key actions to protect residents and staff:
Vaccination Against Common Respiratory Viruses: Vaccination remains a safe and highly effective method to build immunity and prevent severe illness, hospitalizations, and fatalities. Ensure that residents and staff receive recommended flu, RSV, and COVID-19 vaccines. Utilize the #GetVaccinated Toolkit by AHCA/NCAL to facilitate the vaccination process.
Adherence to CDC Infection Control Guidelines: Providers should strictly follow the latest CDC infection control recommendations for both COVID-19 and flu outbreaks. This includes fundamental infection control practices such as practicing proper hand hygiene, utilizing source control masking, and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Effective Communication: Employ various communication methods such as signage, staff meetings, huddles, and other channels to encourage masking when respiratory illness rates are high within the community. Emphasize the importance of thorough hand hygiene and remind staff to stay home when they are unwell.
Regular Testing: Continuously monitor for respiratory viruses, COVID-19, and flu as treatment decisions can differ based on the diagnosis. Ensure access to necessary testing and comply with CDC requirements for testing during outbreaks as outlined in the CDC's infection control guidance for COVID-19.
Access to Treatment: Effective treatments are now available for both flu and COVID-19. Ensure that residents have access to these treatments, even if they have been vaccinated, as they can further reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and mortality.
Additionally, the CDC has released a variety of resources specifically tailored to long-term care providers dealing with respiratory viruses.
Maine Resources include:  
Staff Contact: